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Christmas at the Mansions opens Friday

LITTLE FALLS - It's a chance not only to tour two historic mansions - the Weyerhaeuser and Musser mansions on Linden Hill in Little Falls - but a chance to get into the Christmas spirit.

The fourth annual Christmas at the Mansions will begin Friday and run daily from 1-6 p.m. through Dec. 5, with Saturday tours running until 8 p.m. Admission is $10 per person or $8 with a food shelf donation and children age 12 and under are free with a food shelf donation when accompanied by a paid adult. Admission includes horse drawn carriage rides from 2-6 p.m. Saturdays.

The self-guided tour will allow people to tour all four floors of both mansions that were decorated by local merchants and individuals.

The theme of the tour "There's No Place Like Home" was taken from "The Wizard of Oz." The theme is based off Laura Jane Musser, the daughter of Drew and Sally Musser, who had a special interest in "The Wizard of Oz." The Mussers lived in the Musser mansion and purchased the Weyerhaeuser mansion from Charles A. Weyerhaeuser and Frances Maud Moon when they left the home in 1920 for 5 cents.

The Mussers retained the entire Weyerhaeuser/Musser estate, which became known as Linden Hill. Laura Jane took up residence in the Weyerhaeuser home in the 1950s. Since 2007, Linden Hill has been managed by Friends of Linden Hill, a nonprofit group. The group is sponsoring the tour with proceeds going toward the preservation of Linden Hill.

"This is our biggest fundraiser of the year," Janell Staab, tour planning committee chair, said of the tour. "We've had well over 100 volunteers. There are volunteers who've decorated the mansions every year and there are some who're doing it for the first time to help support the mansions."

Staab said this year the mansions will not only be decorated indoors, but the front yard of the mansions will be decorated with Christmas lights and other decor, including a 22-foot high Christmas tree. Holiday music also will be played to help people get into the Christmas spirit.

Staab has decorated the "Helen Room" in the Musser mansion for the past two years. Staab chose the room because her mother, whose name was Helen, died of lung cancer in 2005. She decorates the room in her mother's Christmas decor.

Cathy Norgren of Motif Salon and Gift in Little Falls decorated a room in the Weyerhaeuser mansion for the first time.

"I wanted to be a part of the mansions this year," said Norgren. "I've always loved antiques and I've collected them over the years."

Carol Potter of Carol's Interior Decorating in Little Falls has decorated a room for the Christmas at the Mansions for three years.

"I like changing the rooms each year," said Potter. "This year I'm decorating the 'Linden Room' and it's done in green so it's easier to work with compared to some of the other rooms in the mansions. I'm doing this room in red and white, with snowmen and giving it an old-fashioned look."

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@ or 855-5851.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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